Game days at the Chandler house are usually pretty chaotic. Getting two kids under the age of three fed, cleaned up, and dressed before noon is always a plus on game day. Lucky for me, I had Scott’s parents and sister in town this past Sunday so the extra hands made for a much smoother morning.
At some point I manage to choke down a granola bar, not because I was hungry, but because I knew I needed to eat something before we left for the game. Food and I don’t agree when the Bills play. My nerves get the best of me and until the fourth quarter ends, I have absolutely no appetite. Soon, my sitter arrives and the Chandler crew step out of the house, number 84 showing proud all over the front and back of our jerseys.
The back of my jersey reads Mrs. Chandler. This isn’t because I want the female fans to know Scott is married. It’s because I am proud to be married to Scott, and I want the world to know it. We leave an hour before kick off, and luckily for us, it takes us ten minutes to arrive at our parking spot right next to the stadium. One of the perks of being family, and something I am very thankful for, is that parking is not such a headache. Needless to say, It’s one of the last things we want to be worrying about on game day.
The walk to the stadium is always a nervous one. I try to distract myself with empty conversation, but I know what is about to begin in just under an hour. Once inside I see the familiar faces, the sweet woman who compliments my oldest daughter ever week when we walk up to the door, the man who scans my ticket who clearly loves his job because he is all smiles every time I see him. It’s just another one of the countless reasons why I love this city. These people are the ones who help create the incredible game day experience.
I stop and grab some popcorn for my oldest and then proceed to my seat. I love seeing the field for the first time every week. With every step, more and more of the field comes into view, and when I reach the top of the tunnel I find that I feel most at home.
Pre-game always seems to last forever. My oldest daughter, Lyla, wants to play with her dollies, so again I sit and try to distract myself, hoping that time lurches on just a bit quicker. Eventually, the lead-in video begins on the jumbo tron and the stadium goes nuts. This gets my nerves going again, and as the team runs out of the tunnel, I feel as though I could vomit. Wouldn’t that be quite the scene?
We sing the national anthem, and I sit amazed at the men parachuting in as our anthem plays. Buffalo wins the toss and Kansas City is set to receive. I breath a sigh of relief. Anytime the defense is on the field, I get a chance to relax and enjoy the game as a fan. Once the offense takes the field, however, I tune almost everything out around me. My daughter is on my lap which makes cheering a bit tricky. I’m not sure if the other significant others are this way, but when Scott is in, I only watch him. A lot of times the play will be over with and I will have no idea where the ball is or who had it. I break down every block and route. My eyes are peeled on him, scrutinizing every move he makes. Of course the wife in me worries during every offensive play that he is in. Is he ok? Will he be happy with that block? Is he limping after that last play?
This can be very arduous, mentally. So like I said, it is a huge relief to me when the defense takes the field.
After the first quarter I finally convince Lyla to go play with her friends in the stadium daycare. Yes, there is a daycare for players and coaches kids and yes, I look forward to this little perk every home weekend. On my way back to my seat I stop and purchase a box of Skittles because my nerves have calmed down enough to chew on something. I thought I had picked the quick line, but unfortunately, I got stuck behind the underage girls who are trying to convince a set of guys to buy them beer. Of course, they did, because the girls were adorable.
When I finally make it back to my seat I realize I had missed a touchdown. Luckily, it wasn’t my husband’s.
As second quarter progresses, I nervously chew on my Skittles and cheer on the Bills. They have really picked things up and finally got into their groove. As they drive down the field, I have a good feeling. As we approach the red zone, my excitement nearly doubles. This is what Scott does best, scoring in the red zone. When we are deep in the opponents territory I will occasionally take my eyes off of Scott and switch over to Ryan, eagerly hoping that he finds Scott open.
On this particular play, towards the end of the second quarter, he did just that. Ryan throws a beautiful ball to my husband and the ref throws both hands up, signaling the score. And so begins the excessive jumping by me and the rest of the Chandler family. Watch out fans, because after Scott scores I want to celebrate with anyone and everyone nearby. Bring on those hugs baby!
Cue the most amazing NFL fight song ever, and the stadium goes wild singing along to the Bills shout song. As they continue to show the touchdown on the big screen, I beam from ear to ear. I think to myself, “Seriously, my husband has the coolest job in the whole world.” Could you imagine 73,000 fans screaming for you, and then after you score you, get to go Buffalo bounce into the crowd? Last season when you asked Lyla, who was two at the time, what Daddy does at work she would respond with, “He runs, catches the ball, and jumps into the stadium.”
She pretty much got it right.
After about ten minutes my nerves finally settle and I get back into “worried wife” mode.The game continues to fly by, as it always does when the Bills are winning at home. I continue to pray that Scott would stay safe, and fortunately for me, he was coming out of every series healthy. Unfortunately, one of our good friends Kevin Boss, who was Scott’s teammate when we were with the Giants, slammed his head pretty hard into the ground and was lying still on the ground for what seemed like ages.
Because we have played for so many different teams, we have a lot of friends in the league. I immediately think of his wife Bre, who is at home with their newborn baby and my heart aches for her. I start praying in the stands for Kevin to be ok and that the Lord would bring peace to Bre. Thankfully, Kevin eventually walks off, which is always a great sign.
The Bills are on today, the fan in me thinks everyone played great and I am confident that Scott will be happy with the way he played: Two catches for 53 yards and one touchdown.
As the fans clear out and the clock clears, we make our way through the tunnel and make our way up the stairs to pick up Lyla. Once we have everyone, we make our way up to the family suite.
This is one of my favorite parts of game day. All of the players wives and families all congregate in the same area and get to visit and let all the kids run around and go crazy. There are drinks, pizza, and of course wings waiting for us after the game. All the significant others bounce around giving hugs and chit chatting about how much happier our husbands will be because we won.
Slowly the players trickle in, all with big smiles on their faces. I love seeing all the players kids run up to their daddy’s and give them giant hugs after the game. This is a side of players that fans, unfortunately, don’t always get to see. Sure, they look crazy-mean on the field, but when you see them cuddling up with their baby girl, your heart can’t help but melt.
Finally, Scott walks out and we embrace. My first question is always the same after every game, “Are you ok?” He confidently answers with a yes and we both smile when I talk about how awesome he played. We all visit with other players and families. We pretend to arrange future marriages for our children and giggle at the thought of how enormous their kids would be.
After a while we make our way to the elevator and down to the tunnel. Again this is one of my favorite parts of the day. I’m not sure if Scott is even aware of this, but when we walk out to fans in the parking lot and I hear people screaming “Chandler” it makes me smile so big on the inside. For the first time in his career fans know him, appreciate him, and–wait for it–ask for his autograph!
The rest of the night is spent rehashing the game, watching the other NFL games, and cheering for any team who is playing anyone in our division. I can sleep easy knowing that my husband is happy, and that he won’t dread going in to work on Monday. As the day ends, I can appreciate the fact that my husband is healthy, that he played well, and that the Bills won. These three things add up to make for a perfect Sunday.